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Sport: Packers 2021 offseason tracker: Key dates, free agents, latest news, rumors and more

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For the second consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers were sent home just one game short of reaching the Super Bowl. Once again, GM Brian Gutekunst, head coach Matt LaFleur and the rest of the Packers brass are looking into the abyss of an offseason where they'll need to go back to the drawing board to formulate a plan that can help the club get over the hump in 2021.

a group of people that are standing in the snow: FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  © Provided by CBS Sports

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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First and foremost, the club will need to address a number of key free agents set to hit the open market while also clearing the necessary cap space to get under the diminished salary cap for this coming season. That's a balancing act that could prove to be quite the challenge. After that, they'll put their eyes toward the NFL Draft where they'll be picking No. 29 overall in the first round.

As we wait for all that to unfold, you can check in on the latest happenings in Green Bay in our offseason hub. Here you'll find every piece of information you'll need to stay caught up with the club's comings and goings including the latest rumors and news along with some dates that you'll want to circle on your calendar.

Key upcoming dates

  • March 9: Deadline for clubs to place the franchise or transition tag on players
  • March 15-17: Legal tampering period opens. Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league year.
  • March 17: The 2021 league year and free agency period begin at 4 p.m. ET. All 2020 contracts expire after this time and eligible players are free to officially sign deals with other clubs. Prior to this deadline, teams must exercise options for 2021 on all players who have option clauses in their 2020 contracts, must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation, and must submit a minimum-salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2020 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
  • April 5: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2020 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
  • April 19: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
  • April: 23: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign.
  • April 28: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
  • April 29 - May 1: 2021 NFL Draft (Cleveland)

*All dates and times are tentative and subject to change.

NFL free agency 2021: Ranking the top 50 free agents, best players by position

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2021 regular-season opponents

Home:

  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Washington Football Team

Away:

  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • New Orleans Saints
  • San Francisco 49ers

*The actual 2021 schedule will be released later this offseason.

2021 NFL Draft picks

  • First round (29th overall)
  • Second round (62nd overall)
  • Third round
  • Fourth round
  • Fifth round
  • Sixth round
  • Seventh round

*More picks will be added once the 2021 compensatory selections are handed out.


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Pending in-house free agents

Restricted free agents:

  • QB Tim Boyle
  • S Raven Greene
  • DL Tyler Lancaster
  • CB Parry Nickerson
  • CB Chandon Sullivan
  • TE Robert Tonyan
  • CB Kabion Ento (ERFA)
  • WR Allen Lazard (ERFA)
  • OT Yosh Nijman (ERFA)
  • OLB Randy Ramsey (ERFA)
  • WR Malik Taylor (ERFA)

The two most recognizable names on this restricted free agent list are tight end Robert Tonyan and receiver Allen Lazard. Both will likely receive some sort of tender if they can't come to terms on a contract prior to the start of free agency. Tonyan proved to be a tremendous weapon for Aaron Rodgers in the passing game in 2020. The tight end was second on the team in receiving touchdowns (11) and receptions (52) and was Green Bay's third-leading receiver with 586 yards. As for Lazard, he was limited to 10 games in 2020 but will still effective in those games, hauling in 33 passes for 451 yards. He's an exclusive rights free agent making it even more likely the Packers will retain him.

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Unrestricted free agents:

  • DL Montravius Adams
  • WR Tavon Austin
  • ILB James Burgess
  • RB Tyler Ervin
  • DL Damon Harrison
  • RB Aaron Jones
  • CB Kevin King
  • TE Marcedes Lewis
  • C Corey Linsley
  • S Will Redmond
  • G Lane Taylor
  • OT Jared Veldheer
  • RB Jamaal Williams
  • DL Billy Winn

The Packers backfield could look a lot different in 2021 with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams hitting unrestricted free agency. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Green Bay places the franchise tag on Jones, but that is a situation worth monitoring. Williams has also stated his desire to stay with the Packers, but he'll likely have a healthy market that could offer him more of an expanded role. If the Packers lose both players, that would mean second-year back A.J. Dillon is primed to take the bulk of the carries.

Corey Linsley is another big free agent for the Packers. The veteran center is coming off a 2020 season where he was named First-Team All-Pro. That performance likely is leading him to a heavy payday and the potential end to his days with the Packers, which is something he's even acknowledged. If the two sides cannot come to terms on an extension, he could quickly jump out of Green Bay's price range once he hits the open market.

Free agent scorecard

Free agents the Packers retained:

  • TBD

Free agents the Packers signed from another team:

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  • TBD

Free agents the Packers lost to another team:

  • TBD

Players the Packers signed who were cut by another team:

  • TBD

*It's important to differentiate between the players signed as unrestricted free agents and those signed after being cut by another team. This is true because players who are signed after being released by another team do not count in the compensatory draft-pick formula for the team that signs them.

Rumors, reports, updates

March 2: GM Brian Gutekunst has essentially admitted that it will be extremely difficult for the Packers to retain All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.

"There's a lot of pieces to this puzzle we're trying to put together," Gutekunst said. "Finding a way to bring him back would be ideal, but at the level of compensation he's at, he's earned that."

March 2: With the franchise-tag deadline looming, the clock is ticking for the Packers on whether or not they'll be placing it on running back Aaron Jones. While speaking to reporters via videoconference, Gutekunst said that the team "certainly could" tag Jones and it's "something we're working through."

"I do think there's usually better ways to go about it, but if that becomes what is in the best interest of the Packers, I think we'll do that," he said.

The franchise-tag deadline is March 9.

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